Finding the Important Points!

Reading to Learn

 

Jessica Smith

 

Rationale:  The goal of reading instruction is comprehension.  Students should learn comprehension strategies in order to understand and learn from what they are reading.  Summarizing is a great strategy that can help kids learn and remember what they learn as they read.  The goal of this lesson is for students to have a better understanding of how to summarize in order to pick out the important information and remember the significant points of the text. 

 

Materials:  Overhead projector or document camera, information about elephant from AWF (http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/elephant) (just the first paragraph printed off).  Copy of The Secret Language of Dolphins, from National Geographic Kids for each student (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/AnimalsNature/Dolphin-language), highlighter, pencil, paper. 

 

Procedures:

1.      Introduce the lesson by explaining that students will be learning about how to summarize text.  "When you read something to get information, a good way to remember what you read is to pick out the important parts.  What is it called when you pick out big ideas and important points in something you read?  That's right, summarizing!  When you summarize something you find what's important." 

2.      Explain how students may want to summarize information.  "When you read something, sometimes authors add information that you do not really need to know.  They may also repeat information.  A good way to remember key ideas is to highlight or underline the important information."

3.      Next, model how you would pick out important information in this excerpt about elephants by projecting it using an overhead projector or document camera.  The African elephant is the largest living land mammal. Of all its specialized features, the muscular trunk is perhaps the most extraordinary. It serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging. The tusks are another notable feature of both males and females. Elephants are right or left-tusked, using the favored tusk more often, thus shortening it from constant wear. Tusks differ in size, shape and angle and researchers can use them to identify individuals.  Say, "In this paragraph, I can pick out information that's more important by underlining it.  This way, it's easier to remember."  Go through and underline the important information explaining rationale as you go.  End with:  "See how we picked out the most important words in this passage?  The African elephant is the largest living land mammal. Of all its specialized features, the muscular trunk is perhaps the most extraordinary. It serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging. The tusks are another notable feature of both males and females. Elephants are right or left-tusked, using the favored tusk more often, thus shortening it from constant wear. Tusks differ in size, shape and angle and researchers can use them to identify individuals.  You can also group things together that are similar, you could say, for example, the trunk has many uses instead of listing each use.  My summary would look like this:  The African elephant is the largest land mammal.  Its trunk serves as a nose, hand, and foot for many purposes.  Male and females both have tusks and tend to be right or left-tusked.  Different tusks can be used to identify different elephants.  Can we try to make that into one sentence?  Let's see.  Trunks that can be used for many purposes and tusks that can be used to identify both males and females are traits that distinguish the largest land mammals, African elephants.  I put all the key information in one main sentence." 

4.      Hand out The Secret Language of Dolphins article and highlighters if students do not have their own.  "Now I want you to read this article and pick out the important information.  Use your highlighter to pick out the important information like I did with the elephant article.  When you get done, re-write the article, with only the important information.  When you pick out what you think is important, I want you to write a topic sentence that tells the main ideas of the article like I did with the information about elephants."

5.      Take up their work and check to see that they found the key facts, deleted trivial information, grouped things together, deleted repeated information, and created a good topic sentence for assessment.

 
References:

Boyer, Christian.  The Secret Language of Dolphins.  National Geographicn Kids
        http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/AnimalsNature/Dolphin- language

African Wildlife Foundation.  Wildlife: Elephants. http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/elephant

 Cadrette, Mallory.  What's the Point?  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/cadretterl.html

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